Ah, the to-be read list. Both a blessing and a curse, certainly. While it is certainly nice to know which books you’d like to read, it can be equally daunting to see thousands (or more- mine comes in at 1,293 on Goodreads) books that, if we’re being honest, we likely will never read the majority of.  But I was thinking… how exactly did my TBR become so hopeless and out of hand?

Ah, look, it is the biggest threat to a manageable TBR, the fellow blogger/reader! Seriously, I love you, but you’re the most enabling bunch my bookshelf has ever encountered. Alas, I am guilty as well. What is a bookperson to do when they fall in love with a book? Flail about, encouraging everyone you’ve ever met to add the book to their to-read lists, obviously!

And I get it, because isn’t that kind of our point? Only… I don’t immediately take a book off my list when someone I know doesn’t like it. So why do I add it immediately? We may never know. But if you praise a book, and tell me I’ll love it… chances are, it’ll be on my list by the next day.

Have you ever gone down a Goodreads hole? It’s fun! You find a book, and then look at all the books that might be like that book. Or you look at some lists of books that come out in 2021 and add all their vague synopses. Good times! Goodreads is pretty much the inventor of the To-Be-Read, and they seem damn proud of it. You log in and are suddenly bamboozled with all the books that Goodreads thinks you need to add to your list.

Goodreads, maybe a little less angry.

Every week, the lovely folks at Publishers Weekly put out a list of the new author deals that went down. And look, all you get is a teeny blurb, a picture of the author, and a release date sometime in the next decade. I don’t know what it is, but the smiling, glowing faces of people who just achieved their damn dreams makes me want to race to Goodreads and add that bad boy as quickly as I can. It’s like I am cheering them on, basically. Their happiness is contagious? Who knows.

Me: Aw, they look so very lovely! Let’s add their book ASAP, because why not?

Me, Two Years Later: Hey, does anyone remember why I added some book about kleptomaniac clowns in outer space to my TBR? 

As I said above, I don’t have the same ease of kicking books off my TBR as I do putting them on. Why? Well, I think the reason is twofold:

  1. What if I miss out on something good? Sure, you might not have liked it, but maybe I will? And something caught my attention enough for me to put it on there in the first place, so… Unless I see a lot of straight up horrible reviews and/or the book is incredibly problematic, it’s probably going to stay.
  2. My memory sucks.If I don’t add a book of interest to my TBR, I will legitimately never remember it again, and it shall be lost to the bookish abyss for ever. Or until someone brings it up again. But if the book isn’t particularly popular, I need to add it. Presumably, I’d be able to find The Raven King again if I removed it from my TBR. But with most books, it’d be out of sight, out of mind. So I keep them.
  3. Everyone else is doing it! This applies, of course, mainly to moderately hyped books. Even if I don’t think it is going to be my cup of tea, if everyone I know wants to read it, it’s probably making an appearence on my TBR.

Can you walk into a bookstore, browse online, or be in the company of books in general without acquiring new ones? If so, congrats! If not… well, you might as well join me at my intervention. I have long since lost count of how many books I have, but if you add up physical and ebooks, I promise it’s over a thousand. That… is a problem.

So, you have a favorite author who wrote some books you loved. Yay! Of course, that person probably wants to continue to eat food, and maybe keep a roof over their head, so they write more books. And you, of course, want to read them. Because hello, Author X wrote it! This is why we add books that our faves have not even confirmed they’re writing yet. I think I have had at least twenty “unknown second novel” by favorites on my TBR at any given time. 

This goes a bit hand in hand with the last point. When you love a series, you’ll keep reading it. There’s going to be six books, but you’ve only read one? No problem, add ’em all! Ten novellas, three prequels, and a graphic novel? Yep, better get them on the list too. Hell, if you’re like me, you have books that are never actually going to come out ever on your list (The Host 2 and 3, anyone?) but you just can’t seem to let go of the hope. 

So, do tell! What makes your TBR unmanageable? Or is yours ::gasp:: under control? If so, teach us your ways! 

Posted August 7, 2017 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 61 Comments


61 responses to “Reasons My TBR is Ridiculous

  1. Cocoadn50

    Just checked my Goodreads TBR. 520 and I have several waiting in both my shelf, my Kindle and my Nook that aren’t on the list. So yah, I’m there with on every point. And I couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks. It all makes me very happy and keeps my out of mischief and the havoc I could otherwise reek into my life. I’m good. You’re ok!!!

  2. I forget books all the time so if I don’t add it to my list when I see it I’m afraid I’ll miss it. So true. And even though I don’t have a big TBR on Goodreads (mainly because I’m too lazy to log on there regularly) I do have a list in my notebook I keep checking on/ adding to. So yeah… impulse control is a big one too. have I EVER walked into Barnes & Noble (or any bookstore) and not bought a book? I kinda doubt it. And now with one clicking…psssh it’s even worse. Still I do think my TBR is smaller than a lot of bloggers, and all I can think of is because of Goodreads. If I used it more and added every book that looks interesting mine would skyrocet too.

    • I used to have a notebook too! Until I straight up ran out of space and abandoned it. And seriously, you cannot go into a bookstore and come out empty handed. It just isn’t a thing! And one click is dangerous. I have calmed down a LOT, but when I first started buying books on Amazon… yikes. I think Goodreads IS the problem, honestly. It’s so damn easy to mark a book as “to read’ so… we mark them ALL.

  3. My GoodReads TBR is more of a “wishlist” (1624, by the way). I like to keep them there, so I get the emails about giveaways (hey, book habits are expensive). For the most part, I add books I see on EW/NG that look good, seeing what others add on GR, WoWs/CWWs post, TTT posts, STS. Usually, by the time the books are reviewed, I am well aware of them, unless it’s an older book (which I love). I have lists on Amazon too, so I can stalk the prices. It’s an illness, I swear!

  4. Theresa

    I am exactly the same way!!! I don’t even bother trying to control my goodreads tbr list. I just keep adding!!! (and my library lets me keep a wishlist online too, which doesn’t help!) It is hard, so many great books keep coming out!!!
    I try to alternate between a fairly current book with an older book. (my kindle is out of control, not to mention all my audio books, very overwhelming at times…. sigh….)
    The only thing that helps me is to pick several each month that I want to focus on and go from there.
    All we can do is what works best for ourselves. In reality, my list doesn’t bother me (too much anyway! LOL!) – it’s there and I know I will always keep adding to it. =)

    • I operate in phases- sometimes i am FINE with having all the books, and sometimes I am in crisis and want the majority GONE. But alas, they never go hahah. The library wishlist would probably be the death of me 😉 I like the idea of picking a few each month though- that helps prioritize for sure!!

  5. CAN TBRS ACTUALLY BE “UNDER CONTROL”??? That sounds like urban legend to me, tbh.

    Mine is a wild mess and I’ve just given up and am letting it raise itself.? Like what even IS SENSIBLITY. I just add all the books and hate myself later. :’) Actually I DO need to have a bit of a clean out but, frankly, it’s too much bother. hhaah. Anyway my #1 reason I add books is just purely because they look cool. I see people do lists of 2017 releases, or whatnot, and ADD ADD ADD. I’m much more sparse with adding backlist books?!? No idea why. I’m very unfair. And I love what you said about the publishers weekly news! SAME. I’m so happy for those authors.?? Also basically ALL THE BOOK BLOGGERS are #1 terrible influences on our TBRs. The internet is so helpful, so enabling.?

    • It IS an urban legend. I swear, if we meet those “people” who claim to have them under control, we’ll know for sure that they’re cyborgs or something.

      DUDE! I am the SAME WAY- I almost never add backlist books (unless someone I adore and trust like you recommends them wholeheartedly) but I am like “YESSS add all the books for 2024!”. WHyyyyyy? The internet really is one giant enabler, no matter what your vice happens to be. I guess we should probably just be saying “well, at least it’s not cocaine!” 😀

  6. I’m not bragging (I totally am), but I was able to cut down my Goodreads to-read shelf from 1000+ to 200-something, which is much more manageable! I just ended up deleting everything that I knew I wouldn’t be able to read. But I’m totally like you too. ALL those reasons you’ve mentioned above are exactly why I keep adding books to my TBR.
    PW is probably one of the worst, because you hear about these books you desperately want but they don’t come out for like 10 years and then when they do come out, you’ve forgotten how excited you are to read them.
    And omg damn bloggers are the worst! I love/hate them for piling on my TBR every freaking day!!

    • DUDE, you should brag! HOW did you do it!? My problem is- I agonize over EVERY deletion. So like, one time I did end up culling about 200 from the population, but it took me forever. I do think I am going to try again- maybe be a bit harsher. It is hard though because culling backlist is easier, since reviews are out. Culling the unreleased stuff… that is where it gets tricky 😉

  7. My TBR is also out of control. Like 200+ on my physical shelves. But I’ve had to start reigning myself in. Less Cover buying. More reading of my own shelves. Otherwise I’ll have a bookcase of only unread books. lol.

    • I…. have 3 bookcases of unread books. It is a real problem. And the worst part is, I have been trying to do better! This IS my better ?? Actually, my goal is to read ONLY books from my shelves (the exception is the few books I pre-ordered because I HAD to have them- mostly sequels tbh) because I only have 9 ARCs left to read! So… good luck to us both! 😀

  8. I only own about 30 unread books, but my TBR list is out of control right now. There are several hundred books on the list. I know that I won’t read most of them, but I still haven’t deleted them. Maybe I’m too hopeful? The giant list is all bloggers’ fault. You guys read too much interesting stuff.

    • Wow, 30 is VERY impressive! My TBR… well, both the ones I physically own AND the ones on my GR list are ridiculous. It is a bad scene. I think I am too hopeful too, because it isn’t going to happen. Like, I COULD read them all, but that is assuming I never add new ones, which NO. And I agree, bloggers ARE the biggest culprit 😉

  9. My sisters! I’ve got 1525 on my GoodReads TBR. I also blame book bloggers (oh dear, that includes me! *lol*), but what started me down this particular garden path were ‘discovering’ reading challenges and ARCs, at the end of 2013. It’s been all downhill from there

  10. Kel

    I wouldn’t say it’s always under control, but every so often I go through the Goodreads list and clear out things I’m no longer excited about/willing to buy/need reminding about. I also tend to clear out things I’ve bought because I don’t need the reminder, I have the book…but that doesn’t always work out so well. Because without needing to cross it off a list, I don’t always get to or remember the books I have. ^^;

    • That is a good plan! I actually did that after I wrote this post, it seemed like a good step- but I only cleared out 100 or so. It seems like most of my TBR is frontlist, and I don’t want to rid myself of them without seeing reviews? So silly. I always forget which books I have! Sometimes Amazon has to remind me not to buy them twice ?

  11. At one point, a few years ago, my TBR pile was insane. The only way it got “fixed” was when I created an account for my blog. For that account, I decided I would only mark down books that I knew I would make it my life’s mission to read. Nowadays, I try to keep my TBR pile at a maximum of 100 books. That way I know that it’s a “reasonable” number of books that if I REALLY tried I could read in a years time. It’s worked for a few years now. Though I don’t feel guilty about knocking books off that list if there’s a detail or two that get under my skin. I’m also not a person who looks for and will put myself through h*ll for books that are hyped up. I’ve come to realize that my tastes don’t always fall in everyone’s popular opinions category. So I just keep to myself and read what I feel like reading C:

    • THAT is smart! I love that idea! I have seriously contemplated making a new, more private account just for books I own and want to read, though that night be just as many bwhahah. I was able to cull about 100+ off my TBR after I wrote this post though, so progress? I really love that you are able to get rid of the books that easily though, I wish I could do that- I end up contemplating for an hour about each one, so it isn’t exactly time-friendly 😉

      • It took a decade for me to get to where I am now. I used to be even worse than you. It got to a point where if I started a book I would put myself through anything and everything just so I could say that I FINISHED that specific book. I think that was the only time in my life that I got 100 books read in a year. I’ve come to realize that life is too short to read books that I don’t like, even if it is a detail or two. 100+ books off your TBR pile is certainly progress! Start small and work your way up. You’ll get there….eventually C:

  12. ALL of the this! I have a stupid crazy amount of books on my “want to read” list. That’s why I keep saying I need to become immortal.

  13. How feel less guilty about your TBR…divide it up. LOL The Want to Read button on GoodReads only gets clicked for giveaways (usually GoodReads giveaways as I don’t enter many blog giveaways–either way I hardly ever win)…when I don’t win, when I clean up that list I decide…to-read-wishlist (stuff I want to buy or want other people-not my OTSP Secret Sister to buy me), secret-sister-project (books I would love my OTSP Secret Sister to buy me), to-read-owned (hopelessly out of date, but I try) and to-read-from-the-library (Chrome has a cool extension that populates this information when you look at a book on Amazon or GoodReads).

    GoodReads rarely sucks me in. I find the navigation and search function clunky still (if I search for a book and its on my shelves shouldn’t it appear at the TOP of my search list?!) after all these years.

    • I REALLY agree with you about the navigation and search on Goodreads- it is a MESS. It’s like they set the site up at the damn dawn of the internet and then were like “welp, that should do forever”. NO, you need to make some improvements from time to time!

      I love your idea about dividing though! I have been trying to a little lately- I put some books onto the “quite possibly want to read” list if I want to remember them but aren’t sure yet, and same with “sequels of books I haven’t read” hahha. But it is a work in progress!

  14. And my TBR is crazy too. WHAAT. I sometimes stalk my GR page, just to anticipate the future covers. Yeah, I’m weird. I’m pretty sure mine my TBR is rising too 350/450. I could never keep count, but I occasionally try to slice books out. OCCASIONALLY. #AdmittingIsTheFirstStep Sometimes, I see books in bookstore (I’ll try to get the paperback version lol. Cheap) but mostly, if I don’t have a gift card or if it’s not on my NEEEEED list, I’ll try to find it through Amazon.

    • OH MY GOODNESS, I do that too! Like… every night I check my 2018 shelf just to see what new covers were announced, and now I feel significantly less insane, so thanks for that! I do the same with Amazon- though I have gotten a LOT better about impulse buying, probably because I have wayyyy too many books already haha

  15. shooting

    Oh gosh, other bloggers are one of the biggest reasons I add a book to my to-read list. My TBR on Goodreads aren’t books I own (though I do buy a ton of books people talk about and I want to read someday) but it’s full of books I someday hope to get to read, and I have a wish list on Amazon too, with different books. It’s a problem.


  16. YES. Goodreads is absolutely horrible for my TBR. And reading reviews and blog posts definitely adds a lot to my TBR too. I haven’t ever thought of looking at Publisher’s Weekly for book recommendations, but now that you mention it it sounds awfully tempting. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous post! <3

    • Do you really not know what FOMO means? And also… I will say I have never bought a book ONLY because of the cover. I have bought a certain edition for a cover, or gone for a physical over ebook because of the cover but never ONLY because of the cover. Guess I am just awesome like that. 😛

  17. OMG, the dreaded TBR. Does *anyone* have a manageable TBR? Like, seriously? Because I’d like to meet that soulless person. I will say that I’ve become much more particular about what I add over the years. Probably because I came to the rather morbid conclusion that I will never read all that I want to read in my lifetime. So I went thru my GR TBR and was ruthless when it came to weeding it out. I had to face facts that chances were I was never going to read a lot of it. And had lost interest in a lot of it. I went from roughly 1,000 books to 500. And then I culled that down to just over 300. Man, that was freeing! Now if I don’t think I’m really truly going to read the book soon… not happening. Not on TBR. LOL

  18. Yessss. Honestly, a pretty cover gets me too. I’ve added so many on Goodreads just because of a cover. And yes! I’m always getting caught up in “Readers also enjoyed”. It’s like a never ending hole. I try to go through my Goodreads every now and then and do a clean up, but is it weird that I feel mildly bad removing books? LOL! Ohhhh and I’m terrible with eBook deals. I’m constantly browsing the bargain section on my Kobo. It could be a book I otherwise wouldn’t think twice about, but the $1.99 price tag calls my name. PS I actually lol’d at the klepto clowns.

  19. Once again, you speak for the multitudes on this one! My Goodreads TBR consists of “want to read,” “URGENT want to read,” (to help me prioritize), and “Maybe want to read” (for books I considered taking off the list but was afraid to lose sight of. The total is in the 1500s…so that’s clearly working out well for me. Then there are over a hundred books around my house that I want to read. And then I go to the library and see a book and go, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard good things about that,” or “Huh, that looks good” and I take it home and read it and it never even made it onto a TBR list, so I can’t cross it off!

    I don’t add to many not-yet-published books, honestly, other than those by favorite authors. I’m such a lifelong library user that I never really think about whether a book is “backlist” or not. Since I started blogging, though, I definitely have a ton more new releases I’m wanting to read. Which sometimes doesn’t happen until they aren’t new anymore…

  20. hahahah I have to agree! Bloggers/reader friends are a very very bad influence. Every time I read a good review from a blogger/reader friend my TBR grows 🙂 I t just seriously gave up on it! I just let it be! 🙂 great post.

  21. I am the least likely to be FOMO about things nevertheless, I still got 188 books on my TBR pile. A small mound maybe compared to yours but I’m already worried I won’t be able to tackle them now that you told me where you get your list of new releases, you despicable enabler Shannon you. (Just kidding, I love you!) Bless my TBR if it stays 188 books after I’ve browsed this Spring 2018 Sneak Previews in PW which I may or may not have opened in another tab. 😉

  22. My TBR literally grows like Jack’s beanstalk 😛 I agree with all your points! I have so many unnamed and untitled sequels and novellas that I can’t even :/ 😛 All those Waiting on Wednesday posts overfeed my TBR and It’s now grown so huge I’ve given up on controlling it 😛 Great post 😀

  23. My TBR is not too awful (I think) but that’s more because I now have a to buy list and a TBR list. If I don’t own it can’t go on the TBR. I probably have 900 books in total I want to buy or read. It’s a bit crazy but impulse control is hard. I fear the idea of running out of stuff to read and as a mood reader I fear not having the book I want to read when I fancy it. It’s a terrible thing. I also blame other bloggers. The more a book is hyped the less I want to read it… yet I also do want to read it.

  24. I agree on your list completely. It is so easy for the TBR list to get out of control with all the new books coming out and the more access to find out what is coming out. I have gone down that Goodreads hole several times. Great post!!

  25. I try to add ONLY 1 book in the series unless I have read the first one and really plan on reading the others… haha I think I recently cleaned out my TBR shelf on Goodreads last year but I know that I added so much more books so… 😀 Oopppssss!

  26. Great post 🙂 I second almost aaaaallllll of your reasons. Especially that memory one! But you know, sometimes it really works out for me. Like a couple of months ago? Mom brings this random book from the library and asks me to “check it on my weird doohikie” (Goodreads, she now asks me about ratings xD)… turns out, it’s been on my TBR since 2012? So I feel like I’ve been handed a gift xD I read it… and it’s brilliant.
    And now I dare you to ask me whether I’ve reviewed it yet. But you already know the answer, of course.

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